In this article for Environmental Conservation, Carsten Mann and I trace the emergence, development, and spread of conservation trading, focusing particularly on the formation and activities of an increasingly transnational policy instrument constituency, i.e. the actor group that has formed around the policy instrument in its support. The development of conservation trading was predominantly guided by a constituency of dominant business-oriented actors, beginning with mitigation measures in the USA and making later connections to international networks with a similar market-driven orientation for environmental protection. Whereas the development of conservation trading is sometimes portrayed as a rational process of neutral policy learning, this process, through its constituency, has developed a life and political momentum of its own, which must be acknowledged when engaging with the design and implementation of better conservation policies. A forward-looking social policy assessment approach is required, which opens up policy design discourses for debate and reflexive engagement. Acknowledging possible shortcomings with a broad range of concerned societal actors can help to assure policy transparency, add specificity, and increase the sound ecological and societal embedding of conservation trading.
Mann, Carsten and Arno Simons. 2014. “Local emergence and international developments of conservation trading systems: innovation dynamics and related problems” Environmental Conservation (Published online: 05 Dec 2014).